The Latest: US sanctions on Venezuelan bank aimed at Maduro

(AP) – The U.S. says it’s imposing sanctions on the Central Bank of Venezuela. The Trump administration says the bank has been instrumental in propping up the government of Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro.

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton says the move is aimed at restricting U.S. transactions with the bank and cutting off the bank’s access to U.S. currency.

Bolton says the action is meant to be a warning to others, including Russia, against deploying military assets to Venezuela to help Maduro stay in power.

The Kremlin has rejected U.S. calls for Moscow to withdraw its military specialists from Venezuela. Russia says they are there to honor obligations under previous arms contracts.

Bolton says Russia has conducted several military flights to Venezuela carrying 35 tons of unknown cargo and 100 military personnel.

The United States says it’s levying more penalties against Bancorp. in Nicaragua — claiming the bank is a “slush fund” for the country’s president, Daniel Ortega.

The bank already has been sanctioned by the United States for its links to Venezuela’s state-owned oil company.

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, says Trump issued an executive order in November targeting the Ortega government and its supporters for allegedly engaging in corruption, human rights abuses and exploiting citizens and public resources.

One of those sanctioned was Vice President Rosario Murillo.

Bolton says the U.S. is now imposing additional sanctions now on Bancorp as well as Laureano Ortega, one of Daniel Ortega’s son.

Bolton says the younger Ortega is being “groomed as a successor” to the current president and Bolton’s is accusing the son of being involved in “vast corruption under the guise of leading Nicaragua’s investment agency.”